Thursday, September 29, 2011

sherbrooke children's centre - another milestone

It was wonderful to be able to join in the celebrations at Sherbrooke Children's Centre (SCC) over the weekend. The centre which provides long day care to locals is about to be demolished as part of the $7 million redevelopment of Sherbrooke Family and Children's Centre (see blog). The celebration was to farewell the old building to make way for the new.

Here I am pictured with current SCC parent and ex SCC Parent's Advisory Committee president, Claire Ferres-Miles. Claire and I were both part of the Save our Sherbrooke Children's Centre (SOSCC) campaign group and met every week over a two year period to continue to lobby council to keep the centre open.

Families past and present joined with staff and ex-staff to celebrate the service which has provided exceptional community based childcare to generations of children in the Dandenongs in this well used and well loved weatherboard building.

SCC Chef, Antonio Frisini, was on hand for the day. Here we are pictured with a a wonderful symbolic gingerbread SCC Antonio created to demolish as part of the day's celebrations.

SCC first opened in 1977 by a group of committed strong women who recognised a need for a local childcare service to assist and support women, the centre has always been a highly sought after childcare service for families in the hills with enormous waiting lists.

In 2004 the council of the day wanted to close SCC but an unrelenting community campaign kept the centre open till the lead up of the council elections in 2005. As part of the SOSCC campaign strategy to keep the centre open I ran for council and to my own great surprise was successfully elected to the Lyster ward.

Pictured with Cr Noel Cliff, ready to demolish the symbolic gingerbread Sherbrooke Children's Centre. Noel along with Cr Len Cox were the only councillors who supported the community in their quest to keep the centre open back in 2004.

Since that time I have continued to highlight the importance of the early years, community based childcare and the long term positive benefits of good quality childcare to my colleagues on council.

I had the great pleasure to speak to the assembled crowd about my part in the history of Sherbrooke Children's Centre and the quest to save long day care in the hills.

The children had a great time putting a hammer through the gingerbread house, it was a great way to farewell the old building and welcome the new.

It's been an interesting and challenging journey, but I'm pleased to say that through my constant efforts, not only have council supported the project but it also has funding support from both state and federal governments.

It wasn't a sad day, it was a day of celebration, although we're losing a building, it's the people that make the service what it is, not the building. It's not about the bricks and mortar, it's the people and their passion, dedication and commitment to children and families that are the essence of Sherbrooke Children's Centre and I have no doubt that essence will continue in the new facility, Sherbrooke Family and Children's Centre when it opens in 2012.

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